Health Column: Give a little, get a lot — volunteer

04/26/2011 8:02 AM |

April is National Volunteer Month, and a time to celebrate volunteerism. I’ve learned through my experience in health care and also from some current research that volunteers benefit not only from the good feelings they get from giving of themselves but also from improvements in their own health because of their volunteerism. There’s a lot of evidence to support this theory.

Studies such as a report on “Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research,” published by the Corporation for National and Community Service in Washington, D.C., show that volunteers benefit from their good work, improving their own physical and mental health. The study found that the positive effect of volunteering for adults 65 and older results from the personal sense of accomplishment the individual gains from his or her volunteer activities. An analysis of research data found that individuals over 70 who volunteered approximately 100 hours a year had fewer self-reported declines in health and functioning levels, experienced lower levels of depression and lived longer.

“There is now a convergence of research leading to the conclusion that helping others makes people happier and healthier,” one study director wrote.

Longevity, functionality, peace of mind and social capital are the key health benefits of volunteering. The term social capital comprises the advantages of associating with others. Volunteers belong to a connected group of people who get to know each other well and develop camaraderie.

At San Simeon, we have more than 60 volunteers who complement our caring for 120 residents plus Adult Day Health Care registrants. I estimate that together our volunteers log about 100 hours a week. They are people from our community, of all ages, from high school students to retirees. Many are family members of residents who stay after a visit to spend time as volunteers.

Volunteers in a health care facility like ours transport residents throughout the building to the beauty salon, the eye doctor or to physical therapy. Some assist with arts and crafts and recreation games, and they accompany residents on outings. Others enjoy shopping for residents. An important job volunteers do here is providing companionship, while being there to assist residents with small tasks or reading to residents or helping them write letters. The residents love and depend on the volunteers, to whom they often become attached. Clearly, any organization that cares for people with health needs could not carry on without such volunteers.

In this difficult economy, there are severe financial pressures being placed on health service organizations at the same time as population trends indicate a great need for health care services.

It’s a comfort to know that these same trends could have the positive outcome of increased numbers of people who are willing to volunteer their time to take care of others. Let’s keep that spirit of volunteerism alive and healthy.

Priscilla DeMasi is executive director and administrator at San Simeon by the Sound Center for Nursing, Rehabilitation and Adult Day Care in Greenport.



82 Comment

  • I have to agree with the school on this one. Pranks are the LEAST of children’s problems today. But the gross lack of respect and integrity are the problems that truly need to be addressed today. Good for the school for enforcing discipline which is something that is unfortunately becoming a thing of the past. As for the amount of punishment/discipline involved…I am sure their are other factors not mentioned in the article.

  • Not being able to attend prom could be appropriate considering factors that we are unaware of. Sure there could be other forms of disipline that could be used, however, it is a privilege and NOT a right. Children are not entitled to anything that they don’t deserve. Behavior, particularly in terms of respect must be addressed swiftly and harshly, otherwise we continue to allow our children to think that they can behave however they want without consequences.

  • The reason why the prank got out of control was because of all the underclassmen that “on their own” made a decesion to participate.

  • My guess is that the school administrators have very little authority over what they can choose as a consequence. I’m all in favor of “creative” punishments, but I don’t think they can mandate physical labor on minors (or anyone else for that matter). And I wouldn’t classify the school’s reaction as harsh. It seems they understood the playful nature of the prank, but are not going to tolerate the students taking it to the next level of disrespect and verbal abuse. They chose to act like jackasses, now they can learn that jackasses aren’t welcome at school celebrations.

  • Maybe its time for someone with actual first hand knowledge of the situation to say something. The bouncy balls were not of any significant danger to the students and it was a playful act. Even some teachers were participating. There has even been speculation that some teachers and secretaries had known of the prank weeks before but felt it was safe enough to be done. The only parts of the prank that went out of control was the involvement of underclassmen who were seen filling waterbottles with toilet water and throwing them “attempting” to be in the “it” crowd. I also personally saw a group of freshman throw a wooden block into a crowd of kids. THOSE kids deserve to be diciplined. The students originally had no attitudes with the faculty but it was clear both the principal and assistant principle were enraged over the situation and myself and others were forcefully grabbed and shoved toward our classes. Under no circumstance is physical contact appropriate if no violence had occured. And the story that they only punished kids who were being extremely vulgar and inappropriate with the staff is completely false. They faculty viewed a tape of the incident and immediately expelled all students they could clearly identify as throwing the bouncy balls. Even in Mr.Murphys announcement during the day he admitted anyone on camera caught throwing the balls would be expelled and not allowed to walk at graduation or go to prom. There are way too many lies surrounding this incident but as a student present during all events i can assure you everything i have just said is 100% accurate.

  • a total of 9 students out of hundreds are being disiplined by not being able to go to prom….9 out of hundreds, yet nobody has seen the security footage that is said to exist. What a shame that such harsh punishment needs to be handed down. All this with absolutly no time for a proper investigation by parents to make a correct determination as to weather the crime fits the punishment.Just how does a school with a security detail the size of village police forces allow several hundred students to congregate in one area, no less get several hundred if not thousands of balls into school. Much egg on the faces of the admin staff of the longwood school district!!! It appears as they are doing nothing more then saving face at the expence of 9…yes 9kids….shame on them

  • u go to school for 12 years do a minor prank and get it all taken away. smh

  • nathan…contact samantha brix at the north shore sun……have any other student that was disilpined or thier parents do the same……..justice doesnt have to be one sided….school officials were wrong….now go get them!!!!